The Hailey City Council on Monday approved a number of safety-related changes to Main Street, including a four-block restriping plan to narrow lanes and widen crosswalks.
The safety improvements are part of a federally funded $3.4 million project to repave and reconstruct Main Street between Fox Acres Road and Cobblestone Lane. As part of the first phase of the project, which began early last week, Idaho Transportation Department crews have been upgrading pedestrian ramps and crossings to meet Americans With Disabilities Act standards. The second phase of the project—starting in July—will involve removing asphalt and constructing new pavement.
After construction wraps up in the fall, the city is planning to narrow lane widths in Hailey’s downtown core as a means of slowing traffic. Lane-narrowing work would bring down the current center turn lane width from 14 feet to 12 feet and the current inside travel lane from 12 feet to 11 feet throughout a four-block stretch of Main Street, two blocks north and two blocks south of Bullion Street, Public Works Director Brian Yeager said during the Monday council meeting.
“There’s significant literature and research out there that supports reducing lane width to improve safety,” Councilman Sam Linnet told ITD representatives. “I believe these [lane reduction] requests are pretty minimal.”
The plan also proposes a buffer zone for the four blocks, designed to provide a sense of separation between traffic and parked cars. The buffer zone would have a “fog line” to help drivers stay in their lane in adverse weather conditions, Yeager said.
Council President Kaz Thea recommended extending the revised lane widths and striping work from Maple Street to McKercher Boulevard.
“I don’t see why we would make a change in the middle of town. I think that would be confusing,” she said.
ITD resident engineer John Baxter responded that from urban design standpoint, the change would result in a greater delineation between the downtown core and less-crowded sections of Main Street.
“We like the idea of the four blocks because it gives us an opportunity to see how this truly affects the traveling public,” Baxter said. “We don’t want to see accidents spike up, or anything like that, but if [we do] we would have a chance to redo all the striping in two years.”
Council approves upgrades for pedestrians
Also on Monday, the City Council approved a plan to widen several crosswalks from 6 to 9 feet and place pedestrian ramps both parallel and perpendicular to curb cuts. Council members also voted in favor of removing broken in-pavement flashing lights at the Main and Myrtle Street intersection. The pavement lights, installed in 2007, have “not worked for at least six years,” according to the city, and a rapid-flashing beacon was installed in their place in 2018.